Fears tower over development

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A development proposal for a six-storey block plus rooftop terrace in Toronto has ignited fears it could set a new height precedent if approved.

Private developer Toronto Investments has lodged a development application with Lake Macquarie council for a mixed-use development at 114-120 Cary Street, next to McDonald’s, that consists of two main buildings, the other being five storeys high.

Both buildings, currently under council assessment, exceed the existing four-storey height code set by the Lake Macquarie Local Environment Plan 2014.

A block away, in Bath Street, residents are concerned that this exemption could have ramifications for an untouched, council-owned operational parcel of land on the foreshore, which the council voted in April last year to develop into a mixed-use building up to six storeys high.

The Toronto Foreshore Protection Group (TFPG) quickly formed to oppose the development, despite the fact that, to this day, neither a development application nor a master plan for the area had been produced.

There had been no further movement on the site until March, when Lake Macquarie council appointed SHAC Architects to undertake community engagement and develop the design of the Toronto Foreshore masterplan and the mixed-use development.

“At this stage, council expects to submit a development application for the Bath Street site to the Hunter and Central Coast Regional Planning Panel in late 2019 or early 2020,” a council spokesperson told Newcastle Weekly.

“The Regional Planning Panel will assess the application independently of council.”

However, the TFPG fears the Cary Street project could have a snowball effect and give the council grace to press on with a six-storey development on Bath Street, which would affect the overall amenity of the area.

“There is no evidence of any community push in [Lake Macquarie’s] west ward for building heights above the current LEP and it’s certainly not the role of councillors to redefine urban design,” TFPG spokesperson Howard Dick said.
“Someone’s called their bluff [and now] private developers are already claiming six storeys as the new planning guideline.”

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